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Russian GPS spoofing threatens safety of navigation

A recent report by the non-profit analytic group C4ADS shows Russian jamming and spoofing of GPS signals is more extensive than previously thought. After the completion of a year long investigation, the report ‘Above Us Only Stars – Exposing GPS spoofing in Russia and Syria’ has been produced, notably highlighting that ‘GNSS attacks are emerging as a viable, disruptive strategic threat.’

Spoofing is the process involving a GPS being made to display false information deliberately without the knowledge of the user. The report also raises awareness to ‘smart jamming’ – a process which involves transmission of seemingly valid GPS signals that do not allow a receiver to calculate a location. This can cause many receivers to not function properly whilst also not reporting any faults, therefore not alerting the navigator to the incorrect location being used for the vessel’s safe navigation.

The work carried out for the report found the discovery of almost 10,000 instances of spoofing that had occurred over a two year period, impacting 1,300 vessels and their navigation. The locations of these events ranged from the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Gulf of Finland. Not only occurring in Russian territorial seas but in international waters also.

Significant opportunities exist for both public and private sector organisations to get ahead of the curve and start addressing these challenges head-on. Increased public awareness of the GNSS interference threats can be used as a platform to begin finding mitigation methods to protect against this.

A full PDF copy of the research project completed by C4ADS and the results in further detail can be found here.

Precautions and considerations to members:

  1. Ensure navigators have an awareness of GPS jamming and spoofing and the differences between the two and how and what ship’s equipment they will effect.
  2. Ensure navigators can use a range of position fixing methods in order to cross check the vessel’s position and accuracy of the GPS location being shown.
  3. Ensure navigators can use other means of fixing the vessel’s position without the use of GPS.

Source: The Standard Club

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